The sister cities connection | AspenTimes.com
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The sister cities connection

Dear Editor:Please join us in welcoming a delegation of medical professionals from our sister city of Bariloche, Argentina. They will be visiting Aspen today through March 25 to participate in the eighth annual Aspen-Bariloche Medical Exchange Program.Members of the delegation are: Dr. Tomas Trapani, orthopaedic surgeon mentored by Mark Purnell, M.D., Lindsay Harris, M.D., Leelee von Stade, M.D., and Tito Liotta, M.D.; Dr. Mariano Flores Velazco and Dr. Cecilia Campora, physiatrists mentored by Jan Alling, PT, Krista Fox, OT, Eric Willsky, M.D., Giora Hahn, M.D. and staff at Craig & Children’s Hospital in Denver; Dr. Orlando Garcia Cerocchi, mentored by Mike Goralka, M.D.; Dr. Marta Santos, mentored by Mindy Nagle, M.D., and her staff at All Valley Women’s Care; Claudia Chiguay, cardiac rehabilitation, mentored by Jan Alling, PT, and Melody Durham, RN; BSN Juan Jose Garay, nurse mentored by Kathryn Chamberlin, RN, and her staff at Aspen Valley Hospital. The Aspen-Bariloche Medical Exchange Program works to improve patient care for the Aspen and Bariloche communities through education, philanthropy and cultural exchanges. We are proud to be one of the few medical exchange program originally organized through the International Sister Cities Program. Our exchange program was formed shortly after San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, was named one of Aspen’s Sister Cities on Nov. 12, 2002, and following one of Argentina’s worst economic disasters. During this economic tragedy, the value of the Argentine peso declined to less than one quarter of its value, and funding for the only public hospital in Bariloche, Hospital Zonal Ramn Carillo, was drastically reduced. At the same time, the Ramn Carillo Hospital, outdated and already facing minimal government financial support, was faced with the daunting task of being the only medical provider to more than 500,000 indigent people in the Bariloche community and surrounding region. Luckily, through this new Sister Cities relationship, the medical professionals working at the Ramn Carillo Hospital were able to contact Aspen Valley Hospital to make a desperate plea for help.Dr. Scott Gallagher and Dr. Mark Purnell visited Bariloche in early 2003 to explore the possibility of creating a medical exchange program. At the Hospital Zonal Ramn Carillo they found a government-supported hospital that has had little improvement since its creation in 1938; it was equipped with only the most basic medical equipment and not enough staff for the growing numbers of patients. Fortunately, they also discovered a very dedicated and well-trained team of medical professionals who were interested in participating in an exchange of ideas and medical technology. Shortly thereafter, Aspen Valley Hospital, the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation and Aspen Sister Cities teamed up to send the first of several shipments of medical supplies to the Hospital Zonal Ramn Carillo. Thus the foundation for the Aspen-Bariloche Medical Exchange Program was formed.Thank you to the many volunteers who are working tirelessly to improve patient care at the Ramn Carillo Hospital in Bariloche, Argentina, and Aspen Valley Hospital. This program would not be possible without the extremely generous support and dedication of The Buster Foundation, Aspen Valley Hospital, Aspen Orthopaedic Associates, Aspen Sports Medicine Foundation, Bariloche Sister Cities, Aspen Sister Cities, Aspen Skiing Co., and Carol and Tom Kurt with the Colorado Mountain Club. Special thanks to Jan Alling, PT, and Eric Willsky, M.D., of Aspen Valley Hospital; The Gant and The Mountain Chalet of Aspen for generously providing free housing for the visiting delegation!Griff Smith, Aspen Sister CitiesMark L. Purnell, M.D., Aspen Orthopaedic AssociatesLaura Morris Pritchard, Aspen Sports Medicine Foundation


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